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Featured Artwork: Calico Cat Mysteries Book 11, “PURRfectly Olivia”

“In this story Olivia comes face-to-face with one of her ancestors–a cheetah. Well, it’s a fun fact–when I had her DNA tested they included a note saying that the wild cat she is most closely related to is the cheetah. So I’ve brought that up in passing in this story. Parker takes her to a zoo…In one scene Parker and Olivia are just watching a cheetah. What do you think about a close up of Olivia (as we generally do) a side view–I have several–of her gazing at the cheetah, which is in the enclosure or pen or whatever. The cheetah can be staring back at her or???”

I immediately pictured her at the plexiglas observation wall looking out at the cheetah habitat. And I remembered a photo from Patricia’s collection of Olivia sitting with her back to Patricia but turned around to look at Patricia. Add the habitat with cheetah to the background and there we are.

Just had to spend an extra day finding my photos from the Pittsburgh Zoo. I’d gone several times with my niece and great kids and with a couple of friends. No cheetah in the digitals, but I finally found them in my film photo files. So here we are.

I actually painted this cover at the end of December 2022. This is cover number 11 in Olivia’s series while we just finished working on cover 20! I’ll work on catching up—again!

Here’s the synopsis of Olivia to the Rescue:

Olivia has her paws full in this lively mystery.

What starts out as a family reunion quickly becomes a challenging cat mystery in the mountains of Colorado. No one knows where the swarm of cats are coming from or where they’re going until Olivia gets involved. The clues lead to some of the most unusual places and the most unlikely people. But the closer Parker and her brother, Wade, come to solving the mystery, the more danger Olivia faces. Amid the peril, there are touching moments and a sweet conclusion that will warm your heart.

You can find Olivia to the Rescue on Patricia’s website and on Amazon.com.

About the materials for the cover illustration

I use a self-prepared two-ply illustration board with a very fine surface texture to hold the pastel, and also be able to use other media. It’s not entirely opaque so I can put it on my light table and trace the details in place. I initially started out with a sketch in watercolor but I’ve been using my brush markers more often to block in the colors and especially the dark areas; the markers are alcohol based and don’t cause as much ripple in the paper and have cleaner edges than watercolors. Then I put it on my easel and finish it with my pastels, a mix soft pastels and pastel pencils especially for details.

Getting all the details just right on an illustration like these book covers can be tricky when they are small. Depending on the detail in the illustration, I work them almost twice the final size of the cover—the cover is 5″ x 8″ and I work at 9″ x 12″.

Other illustration materials I’ve used

I did’t use paper for most of these illustrations but chose Ampersand brand Pastelbord, which is a piece of Masonite with a very fine clay and marble-dust coating that has very little texture but holds layers of pastel so I can both do my finger-painting thing with blending softer pastels and sketch with harder pastels and pastel pencils, and it stands up well to multiple changes. I began the painting with soft pastels to cover the major areas with layers of color. I finished up the details and edges with pastel pencils.

But once I began working out the covers with all this Victorian detail like PAWSitively Sinister, I needed a little assistance in keeping the details in order so it didn’t take me until next year to do the painting. Especially when working with patterns it’s important nothing is out of place or it’s immediately noticeable. I start with a complete composite that I’ve built in Photoshop using all the photos and images and art so that Patricia can see just what it will look like, and I have all the details in place. It’s far more difficult to correct an illustration than a Photoshop composite, which I can adjust infinitely. That way, when I get to my actual painting, all the decisions have been made and I just need to paint.

I use a self-prepared two-ply illustration board with a very fine surface texture to hold the pastel, and also be able to use other media. It’s not entirely opaque so I can put it on my light table and trace the details in place. I start out with a sketch in watercolor and even marker to block in the colors and especially the dark areas. Then I put it on my table and finish it with my pastels, first the soft pastels for coverage, then pastel pencils for details.

Depending on the detail in the illustration, I work them sometimes twice the final size of the cover. Getting all the details just right on an illustration like these book covers can be tricky when they are small. The books are 5″ x 8″, but this illustration was 10″ x 16″, which helped me to paint in all the leaves and details of the bark.

About these book covers

I’ve illustrated over 83 covers to date for Patricia over two series of cat mysteries. Rather than list them all here, you can explore the category Book Cover.


Klepto Cat Book Covers

CWA 2018, 2021, 2022 Muse Medallion AND Certificate of Excellence for “Illustration: Series”

Patricia publishes about six books each year and I’ve entered the covers since 2015. I’ve won a Certificate of Excellence each year, and often won a MUSE™ Medallion too.

2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022

Click the links above to see the other awards.


Bookmarks for Patricia L. Fry's books.
Bookmarks for Patricia L. Fry’s books.

All books are available in electronic format and most for print on Amazon.com as well as find the print versions on Patricia’s website. Reviews have been good, and a few reviewers have even mentioned the covers! I hope you enjoy these books, and Patricia and I are currently working on the next cover. That woman can write!

When we finished book 12 we also updated the two-sided bookmark that includes all twelve books so far which Patricia can hand out at book signings and book shows.

We’ve also printed several runs of note cards from multiple covers, including a Christmas series.

. . . . . . .

Read more about book covers I’ve designed. Also, click here to read more about the Purrs of Wisdom cover and bookmarks, and also about books I’ve designed on my blog, What’s New?

Are you interested in illustrations or a book cover, or book design? Please contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss your project.


Featured Artwork

Each week on Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork, sometimes a current or historic portrait, sometimes an illustration or an art project from years ago, usually cat-themed, but sometimes wildlife or even non-animal subjects, and even projects from my commercial art life. Read other Featured Artwork posts.


Custom Commissioned Artwork and Illustrations from Portraits of Animals

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy~~~

From Animal Portraits to Book Covers to Advertisements

In addition to creating commissioned portraits beloved animal companions for the past 25 years, I’ve also been a commercial artist since the 1980s both full-time and freelance and created many illustrations, book covers, advertisements, display signs and more. Visit my Commissioned Artwork pages to read more. They are not quite complete at the moment but there is still quite a bit to look at.

Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

4 thoughts on “Featured Artwork: Calico Cat Mysteries Book 11, “PURRfectly Olivia”

  • Brian's Home ~ Forever

    That’s some amazing cover art! Thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

    Reply
  • 15andmeowing

    Beautiful. I love all the covers you have made.

    Reply

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